Women footballers in Italy’s top league will finally be considered professional, an “era shift” that ends years of players earning capped salaries due to recognition only as amateur athletes.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has said the women’s league change to Serie A will take effect on July 1, in time for the start of the new season.
“Today is a great day,” said Gabriele Gravina, president of the federation. “We are the first federation in Italy to implement this change”.
Umberto Calcagno, who leads the Italian Footballers’ Association, said the decision marked “the start of a new challenge” in which “the system is committed to taking advantage of all the opportunities of this changing era”. .
The Women’s Serie A was established in 1968 and for the first two decades players were only reimbursed for travel expenses until their teams came under the jurisdiction of the FIGC National Amateur League, which means that women could earn a capped salary, albeit on contracts that exempted them from contributing to social benefits such as pensions and health care.
Unlike their male counterparts who earn several million euros, the gross salary of women playing for Serie A clubs is capped at €30,000 per year.
The FIGC, which have organized the women’s Serie A league since the 2018-19 season, have started legal proceedings to improve their status after coming under increasing pressure following the national team’s success in qualifying for the Women’s World Cup. 2019 after a two-decade drought, and reaching the quarter-finals of the tournament.
“It took a long time to come, but finally it happened,” said Elisabetta Vignotto, a famous striker who was one of Italy’s first female footballers. Vignotto, now 68, played for several clubs in the 1970s and 1980s and was one of the national team’s top scorers.
“There was no salary, we just got reimbursed for our travel expenses,” she said. “It wasn’t until the end of my career that we got a few more refunds, and even then we had to rely on good faith.”
Sara Gama, captain of Juventus and Italy, said the change would give women’s football “the opportunity to grow from uncharted frontiers”.
Although the women’s Serie A has existed in one form or another for over 50 years, the first top men’s club to launch an official women’s team was Fiorentina in 2015, following the requirement for all men’s clubs to Serie A to have a women’s team.
“I played for many clubs because at that time they only lasted about a year due to lack of money,” Vignotto said.
The Serie A women’s league has 12 clubs, but this number will be reduced to 10 from next season.